2012 marks the 25th anniversary of Powwow. Since 1988 Powwow has held the last Sunday of April, sometimes first Sunday of May (whichever falls closest to May Day) as a gathering for the alternative and all communities of Baltimore to connect in a reunion of sorts. If you’ve been, you know the experience of walking two feet before you see a friend who you haven’t seen in months or maybe who you saw last week, but everywhere you go there are familiar faces, conversations, and connections. Another year, another spring, another Powwow and now you know you’ve returned full orbit home.
Powwow is an all day experience from noon to near midnight- birthed first as a boat launch for founder Dan Van Allen’s sailing canoe. This gathering, Dan prefers not to use the word, party, has been about connecting with your tribe, whoever you are, however you identify.
Photo by Philip Laubner
In the last few years, Dan has handed over the reins of Powwow to the dynamic-organizing-art-prowess of Kelly Ann Richmond who carries the legacy of Powwow forward. No doubt about it, it’s no small feat to organize this all day festival and hold space for the whole community.
Photo by Theresa Keil
With the Tribe stage on the hill and the Beach stage with its back on the water, there is an all day lineup of bands and musicians from Balta Mare to the Funky Bass and Beat Group Known as F. Vendors sell beer to falafel wraps with slivers of beet and drizzled honey to wares of psychedelic, jeweled bling. Powwow is a sensory experience on all levels. And the money raised from buying food and drink at Powwow goes directly to the Arabber Preservation Society.
Photo byLarry Cohen
Alice Anonymous knows the power of play at Powwow, and as she’ll tell you, she always has her shtick. This Sunday, she’s come bearing the gift of strawberries, grooving on gift culture, on how we enrich our community by what we’re able to give.
The day at Powwow feels infinitely and delightfully long, you may be behind a Wal-Mart (think of the subversion of it, even a mega chain couldn’t kill this creativity) but you’re also in Ferry Bar Park. Tomorrow is Monday, but no one is thinking about the coming week. Everyone is in the moment where you’re allowed to explore the boundaries and Be.
As the day begins to wane, we start to anticipate the fire.
The burning of Fred Merill’s sculptures since 2004 have signaled the transition of Powwow day into Powwow night, from chill lawn lounging to turning toward the flame. Fred’s pieces, inspired by his visit to Burning Man, always have a story in them as he will eagerly tell you and lead you around his sculpture, showing you his finishing touches that are a precision of love.
In the stretch of 25 years, Powwow is a constant, a whole generation. It’s Baltimore past, present, and future – familiar faces and a microcosm of culture that happens one sublime Sunday a year, marking your full orbit back to the community you love all year.
Additional Photos by Philip Laubner:
Photos by Theresa Keil: